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Keeping the Faith after Divorce

Quarantine Diary featuring Nikita Davis

 

My life has been full of failed relationships in regards to men since childhood. Therefore, from the beginning I had a very skewed perspective on what a healthy female to male relationship should look like. The “best” relationship I ever had was a 5 year relationship with a married man. When we met I didn’t know that he was married and actually didn’t find out until about 7 months later and by then I was very pregnant and very in love.  We stayed together until he was murdered in 2011. I will never forget the feeling I felt when I knew it was all over.

His Wife’s forgiveness and kindness towards me was pivotal in me being able to move forward. I ended up joining a church and built a strong relationship with God.

God really helped me to understand that I was worth more than what I had been settling for.

At this point in my relationship with God, I decided to be celibate. During those 7 years I learned a lot about myself and who I truly was outside of relationships. I found out that I was really a nerd-kind of –and that I enjoyed the outdoors which was a far stretch from the times past of selling drugs, partying, drinking & smoking and moving from one relationship to the next.

In October 2018, I met my soon to be ex husband. On our first date I told him my testimony in great detail. I also told him what I would and would not settle for and at the top of that list was cheating. From my previous experience, I don’t believe that cheating is a mistake. I think cheating takes a lot of effort and it takes a lot of thought and the time that you put into cheating could be put into either fixing or bettering your existing relationship It could also be put into ending the relationship and moving on. Either way I made it clear that I would not settle for this. Ever.

He proposed Aug 2019 and we got married Nov 18, 2019 in a small ceremony with plans to have a bigger ceremony on July 26, 2020. After we married we moved in together and blended our families. Almost immediately, it became evident that I had been deceived. He was a completely different person. He was not nice. He would go out of his way to try and say things to hurt my feelings and he avoided spending time with me at all costs. It was unhealthy and went against how I saw myself.

June 6th, 2020 while I was supposed to be away with my bridesmaids I found out that he had cheated on me.  In that moment, I had a decision to make. On June 10, 2020 I filed for divorce and I refused to look back. One month before my big wedding I pulled the plug because I know for a fact that I deserve better.

Today, I am well and I think that surprises people. I kept the matters of our marriage very private therefore no one knew that I had basically been crying the entire 7 months that I was married to him. His attempts to break me didn’t work, they only made walking away that much easier. I put everything I had into my marriage until it was over. Several people have told me to keep the faith and not give up on love because there is someone out there who will love me the way I deserve to be loved. Even after all of this I believe that whole heartedly! The air he slowly took from me is now mine again and I am breathing-DEEP!!

Bio:

My name is Nikita Jenell Davis. I am 34 years old. I have an 18 year old daughter and an 11 year old son. I work full time for the Omaha Public Power District. I run a small business named Whip’d By Kita that specializes in all natural hair/skin care products. I am also a loctician.

LFB: Nikita J Davis
FB: Business Whipd By Kita
IG: Whip_bykita

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Growing Through It

Quarantine Diary featuring Maritza Mateo Asboe

I’ve been growing through this COVID times instead of just going through it. I say that because I’ve had some time to read more personal growth on leadership, marriage and parenting when I have some me time. I originally had the opportunity to stay home with my kids and do things from home but what changed is that we can’t go out and do our adventures like we normally do. Since things are all closed. The Black Lives Matter movement has for sure changed my heart and mind, I’ve been more aware of what’s really going on in our world. 

This season has changed the way I parent just a bit, I’ve been enjoying my kids even more, since things are all closed. I have been practicing patience, grace and teaching moments with my kids. I have explained to my older child that there’s a virus and people are getting sick so we need to be careful and stay home, be praying for our world. I’ve been helping my older son to cope and or thrive  with this season by talking to him and expressing to him that we are here for him. He can freely talk to us also by going outside our backyard, reading books and utilizing technology to FaceTime family so that he can see them and know they are doing okay. 

What has surprised me about how I’m handling this is that I am at peace and know things will be okay.

One of the reasons is my faith and the wisdom I’ve implemented prior to the pandemic.

I think as people we can lean into the current challenges in life with effectiveness and enthusiasm by being there for each other in many ways. By praying, giving, being an example in our community, speaking up for others, taking leadership roles in our families first and then community. Knowing that you are not alone in this time! Change will happen and good will win. Everyday choose to have joy and be glad in it no matter what’s going on. And making others aware of what others are going through and not being blind to it. Be the change you want to see. 

Bio:

Maritza is a proud Wife and Mommy of two boys, Micah and Augustine. In 2016 she launched Itza & Eta, a childrens clothing line that offers the softest handmade clothing for your little ones. Every purchase made they give back locally. Follow her on Instagram: itza_and_etaand Facebook: Martiza Mateo Asboe

 

Finding Light in the Darkness

Quarantine Diary featuring Brandee Alexander

 

At one point you considered yourself as someone who was broken.  What hard truths did you need to sit with during that season? 

Well 2019 was one for the books wasn’t it? I definitely placed the “broken” label on myself towards the latter part of 2019. There were some relationships that ended during that season and I can tell you I was totally unprepared for what God was about to do in my life. I blamed myself a lot and was forced to look inward with a magnifying glass and pick apart pieces of me that I thought were no good.

A few Hard Truths that I had to face:

  • Brandee is NOT perfect, and that is absolutely OK,
  • Brandee likes things Burger King style, I want to have it my way a lot of the time, all the time honestly and that’s selfish.
  • Brandee doesn’t love herself. This one was hard, I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, or be somebody that is easy for others to accept, when in reality I was not designed to be accepted by everyone and that’s ok.
  • God still loves me even when the key players you think you need walk away or hurt you. This was a hard truth for me because I didn’t want certain people to walk away from me. I didn’t think God loved me anymore, people were walking out of my life. I thought there MUST be something wrong with me, and God must have left with them.

How did brokenness reveal itself in your life and how did it affect your identity?

Brokenness revealed itself in suicidal thoughts/ideations, shame, and condemnation. I wasn’t working, and honestly nothing was happening for me. Everyday I sat around crying endlessly, there was a point in this journey where I contemplated ending my life. I hid myself, I was ashamed, when I did try to go out and see familiar faces I felt as though people were asking me how I was doing out of pity. It was at this point where I realized I cared way too much what people thought of me and not enough of what God thought.

I let relationships with people define who I was too much and when those ties were severed I was forced to learn more about who I am. More importantly WHOSE I am.

What surprised you and/or other people the most about how you handled yourself during a season of difficulty and uncertainty?

So I get to talk about how God blew my mind!! What surprised others watching me was how quiet I became during my season of struggle and humbling. What surprised me was how swiftly God answered my prayers. I asked God to relocate me from my prison which was unfortunately my favorite place to be, home.

He did that and so much more. I went from not having a job, to being offered multiple positions to choose from and selecting the BEST option for me. The company moved me to my new state, and all my needs were met. They even called me on my BIRTHDAY to offer me the job of my dreams! I was done for; I did the ugly cry that no one should ever see.

God also surprised me by sending women who needed to heal so I started a private women’s healing group. My inbox was flooded with women who had experienced some of the same things I had and just never talked about it. It’s important for us as women to connect with one another especially with our seasoned women to gain that wisdom. I’m forever grateful for these women and their honesty.

How do you define “glow up” and what steps can we take to get there?

During this season when I finally decided to stop the tears, wash this face (thanks Rachel Hollis), and take charge of my life I was told that I had this glow. Women are often told we’re glowing when we are pregnant or in love. I seldom remember hearing it after going through a storm but God is good!! The storm inspired me to coin the phrase “Let Glow and Let God” which came from Daniel 12:3 MSG

“Men and Women who have lived wisely and well will shine brilliantly, like the cloudless, star-strewn night skies. And those who put others on the right path to life will glow like stars forever.”

Glow up can be defined as living wisely through the storms of life, shining brilliantly like the night sky and becoming a beacon of light on the journey to healing.

Simple Steps you can take to get your Glow On:

  • Be Ok with NOT being ok
  • Be Honest with yourself
  • Be mindful of what you feed your spirit
  • Feel It by being a STAR (Stop/Smile, Take a deep breath And Relax)

Please take note to how I didn’t define these simple steps. Why?  Because this is your unique journey and only YOU can define your glow.

God Bless and Remember to Let Glow and Let God!

BIO:

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska Brandee Leigh Alexander has a passion for helping women see themselves as whole, fearfully and wonderfully made, and of course glowing. Brandee is currently an Associate Executive Director for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City and hopes to one day open up a YMCA as the Executive Director. Brandee has a private healing group for women on Facebook and is currently in the process of finishing her first book to continue encouraging women all over the world to embrace their glow!

Instagram: mzzbrandee06

Facebook: Brandee Leigh Alexander

Twitter: mzzbrandee

Brave Avenue Unscripted: Who Are You: Identity

 

Episode 3: IDENTITY: Secure in my identity: Who am I?

Identity and security go hand in hand. Our security is linked to knowing who we are, but do we really like what we discover?  Join us as we dive into this complex topic on our journey to discover true freedom. Don’t let others’ negative opinion of you become your reality.

Identity: how do others describe us? 

How do we describe ourselves?

What are the significant roles that we play, and which ones do we get our identity from?

How does God define us?

“Not my mirror, nor my filter.” Others words and opinions are not, but God‘s word is.

Ephesians 6: We get dressed each day, and put on the belt of truth. Throughout the day, we need to filter every thought through the truth of God’s word.

Identity and security go hand in hand. Our security is linked to knowing our identity.

“Identity is the foundation on which individual uniqueness rests. It secures that which satisfies the deepest longing of an individual‘s life.”

-Terry Wardle

True freedom is having an identity grounded in Christ, and not being a target for others hurtful words or actions. True freedom is having nothing to prove. True freedom is knowing who you are and not being able to have that taken from you.

We can speak the truth with compassion, from a place of vulnerability. We can speak the truth out of a desire for the best for others, reminding people of their true identity.

Beliefs > Identity > Behavior

Our behavior flows out of our identity, but it’s not the same thing. Sometimes we act out of character, we forget our identity and act in a way that does not reflect who we truly are. We have to remember that that behavior is not our identity, it does not define us. We have to remember our true identity.

What do your behaviors say about your identity? About your beliefs?

What have been your most significant identity shifts? How have these identity shifts changed your behaviors? Relationships with others?

Do you identify with any of these statements?

  • I am a victim. 
  • I am not worthy. 
  • I am not enough. 
  • Other examples.

What does God say is true about you?

[Verses about identity]

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 John 3:1-3 (TPT) Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.  The reason the world doesn’t recognize who we are is that they didn’t recognize him. Beloved, we are God’s children right now; however, it is not yet apparent what we will become. But we do know that when it is finally made visible, we will be just like him, for we will see him as he truly is. And all who focus their hope on him will always be purifying themselves, just as Jesus is pure.

Resources:

 

No Longer an Easy Target

I remember sitting at my friend’s house crying again about something someone said to me. I hated how I let this person’s comments get under my skin but here I was again. This was nothing new. The person had exhibited the same behaviors for years, yet I had a propensity to face it as if it were the first time. I sat in my friend’s kitchen, frustrated and defeated as I re-told the story. They listened and were very encouraging but they also challenged me with truth. “You are an easy target.” My friends words shook me…she was right and it made me angry. Seeing myself from that perspective was all it took for me to get up and take my power back. I was no one’s easy target!

“The way you see is stronger than any calamity.” Mark Batterson

In order to see myself differently, I had to change the narrative I was telling myself.  When we allow others words to hurt us, oftentimes it is because there is something we believe to be true about ourselves. Maybe you believe you’re not a good daughter because you didn’t get your Mother the perfect gift for her birthday. Do you believe you’re unattractive because a family member often reminds you of how you could look so much better if you just changed this.  Or do you feel like you’re incompetent in your role at work because your Supervisor never likes your ideas. Do you feel like you’ll never meet the right guy because you have been romantically disappointed too many times? What do you believe about yourself that is not true?

For years, I let shots land in my heart about my loyalty, my weight, abilities and romantic relationships and every.single.time. I was left feeling the same way which caused me to believe I would never be good enough. I know none of those things are true. I have been processed by the truth of who God says I am and His truth causes me to grow. Each time I recognize a lie, I call it out and build onto the truth.

This is how we grow.

This is how we add maturity to our faith.

We no longer have to start from square one when we get attacked. Now we can recognize what the attacker is attempting to do and get out of the way! When you make the decision to grow, your attackers plans will no longer work.  

I want you to think about something. When a hunter goes hunting, they do not simply shoot and kill their prey.  Their attack is calculated. They blend in with their surroundings, they are quiet, silently watching, studying to learn their preys habits, weaknesses, and strengths. The hunter can sit for hours taking in all this information and waiting for the perfect time to attack.  Y’all we have an enemy that is strategically setting up challenges to steal, kill and destroy us.  He believes that you are an easy target. What do you believe??

The following week the same person that I let upset me attempted to rile me up again but this time I refused to let it anger me. I called them out on their behavior. They didn’t apologize but they quickly backed down and tried to pretend they were just kidding. The behavior continued a few more times, but each time it occurred, I spoke up with more assurance until finally it stopped.  What happened? I was able to see the problem with a greater perspective which allowed me to build upon the information that I already knew.  This made it possible for me to face the challenge with more tenacity. I was done!

Philippians 1:6 says, “God has already started a good work in you and He wants to bring it to completion.”  

God wants to build upon what He has already done in you so that you can have greater influence to empower others.

Brave Tip: “Let your yesterday be a building block for tomorrow.” Priscilla Shirer

Candy

To Be Or Not To Be…You

This year has been about pursuing “This is Me”, my identity. Since I’ve invited God to show me who I am, it’s been a heavy battle of letting go of what I’ve believed about myself in exchange for the truth of who He has already created me to be.

If I’ve always been who He says I am, then the question I have to ask myself is: What has kept me from fully embracing it all this time? I believe that false humility has played a significant role in my denial of who I am. False humility hides behind an incorrect perception of humility. False humility is pride cloaking itself as humility. For example, do you often disagree with people when they pay you a compliment or have some kind of rebuttal? Yep, that’s false humility.

I think there is a constant underlying fear of either being perceived as arrogant or not being good enough. In reality, true humility admits the truth. Pride blinds, distracts, and slows down the process of growth. I’ve said in the past that it’s not the truth that hurts but the removal of pride that leaves a powerful sting.

While reading a book called ‘The Marketplace Paradigm”, I realized that I never gave myself permission to be successful. Some part of me withheld the possibility of actually seeing my visions come to pass. It was a turning point in my thinking. I decided that I’m finished pretending I can’t have it all. I am supposed to dream big and have the audacity to believe it can be done. I’ve had to admit that I’ve placed limits on my God-given potential.

It is never too late to get it. God has been waiting for this moment. He has been waiting for you to align yourself with the truth and allow it to set you free. In this freedom you don’t count yourself out and decide that someone else is more qualified. In this freedom you assume that He has set you up for success.

I finally admit that I am a gifted artist and speaker. I challenge you to no longer ignore the compliments and affirmation that come your way. People notice what you are good at and have a tendency to tell you. Ask a co-worker, friend or family member to tell you what they see in you. There is nothing that you lack in gifts. They point you to who you are.

What visions have God played on repeat all your life? What are you passionate about? Take a moment to wholly accept who you are and give yourself permission to just ‘be’. Don’t let false humility get in the way. It’s time to finally admit how truly incredible you are.

Say What You Need to Say

Fear is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s rational. Like if there is a bear standing in front of you in the wilderness, fear would be pretty appropriate. But more often than not, fear is irrational, and irrational fear keeps from doing a lot of rational things. One of the rational things that irrational fear deters us from doing is saying what we need to say. Why is it so scary to be honest? Well, in relationships, we are usually afraid of how someone might react. We go through all the scenarios in our head and try to figure out if that person will be angry, sad, annoyed, emotional, confused.

I get it. Confrontation is not pleasant. It can be hard and sometimes painful. But it’s worse to let things go on how they are and push your thoughts and feelings under the rug. I’m all too familiar with this process. I don’t want to deal with stuff so I’ll just pretend it’s not there and usually distract myself with the busyness of life. Spoiler alert: It shoves its way out from under the rug eventually and I WILL have to deal with it. UGH! So annoying, but so true. In a relationship, it will surface again if you don’t deal with it now.

Every stage of dating comes with a decision to be completely honest and up-front, or to alter your behavior and dialogue to keep someone interested. From the first date forward, you either decide to be yourself or who someone else wants you to be. It’s so easy to do this when you like the person sitting across from you. But the problem is that neither of you will know if you’re actually a good fit unless you say what you think. I have struggled with this time and time again. My dating experiences have historically been full of trying to impress a guy instead of being the woman God created me to be and being OK with it. Not everyone is going to want what you have to offer, but that’s a good thing.

Know what you stand for, speak up for what you want, and if your S.O. breaks up with you because of it, they weren’t right for you in the first place. Do what is right for you, and the right person will love you even more for it. Be brave, ladies! Stop letting fear of a negative reaction deter you from saying what you need to say.

Bittersweet Beginning

Have you ever had one of those moments where you just surprised yourself? You go about your life each day, probably doing the same thing, the same way until one day you make a conscious effort to go off the beaten path and you find an unexpected joy! That is exactly how I felt after completing the first semester of the Fashion Ambassador Program through Kleveland Clothing.

I remember talking with my husband about the class. It was the night after our miscarriage and for some reason I felt like it was time to go off the beaten path. I had allowed fear to make many decisions for me. Often those decisions left me feeling dissatisfied, but not that night. I made a conscious decision that I would no longer hold back when it came to my gifts and talents. In that same breath, bravery replaced fear and I registered for the class. Every weekend I was immersed in a class where I learned how to design, sew, and given the freedom to simply create. It was truly the highlight of my week during a difficult season. Through loss, something else was birthed- the creative being that has been waiting to come out for years.

What about you? Is there a fire kindling slowly in your heart? Maybe it’s time to fan the flame a bit more. You are a creative being with gifts that are waiting to explode and bring joy to those around you. My Brave sister, it’s time- time to give yourself permission to be you, to make mistakes, to try the things you’ve always been interested in. It’s time to give yourself permission to actually BE great! I promise, if the dreams will not stop it’s because they were meant to be. We can never evade them. Let’s dare to go deep and trespass beyond the walls of our fear to find the glorious, unexpected, adventure in our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016: Review and the New

Review:

As the Founder of Brave Avenue I (Candy) am truly thankful for the opportunity to curate Brave Stories from women who can speak into our natural ability to rise up and live passionately. “What’s your story?” has been my go-to question when I’m in a room full of strangers or simply just getting my oil changed. I have always loved hearing people’s journeys, but I never thought a platform would open up for me to actually share with others. Brave Avenue seemed to happen by accident. I was at work listening to Pandora when a group called Boyce Avenue came on. I was digging the song and went to find out more. I mistook the name as Brave Avenue and only found a street name located in a few cities I had never visited. After Google failed to give me a complete answer I went to the source. God let me know he was challenging me to be brave in 2015. To say “yes” when I wanted to say no to discomfort. When I was pregnant with my daughter I had asked God to help me raise a confident and brave girl who would grow up secure and fearless of any challenge. Of course, it’s only natural that he would present me with uncomfortable opportunities for me to tap into bravery. My daughter has an example that she can look up to everyday. We’re only 6 months in and I must say I am proud of the impact Brave Avenue has made. We’ve grown to four regular Contributors, the Brave Stories have been shared in multiple countries, and our Guest Bloggers and Contributors have been impacted by the amazing feedback they receive, even inspiring some to move forward in their passions. Although we are the foundation, we still get motivated to take the next step after reading your comments!

This experience showed me four things:

1-Women need empowered women to lead the way for our younger generation.

2- Our voices matter and are valuable. 

3- Our thoughts and Brave Stories are important and needed. 

4- Saying “yes” can lead you to incredible opportunities only found in your dreams.

The New:

We are so thankful and blessed for all that has happened in this past year. As we review 2015, we are also excitedly anticipating all that will come in 2016 and how we can bravely face it together. As the co-founders of Brave Avenue, we would like to share our intentions and some themes that we have chosen to focus on for this new year.

Ella: “The Hard Way”

In 2016, I will live the hard way. I will not retreat to a cave of easy comfort but will climb the mountain, no matter the weather, becoming stronger each day along the hard way. Clearly, the hard way will be difficult, but I will choose to deny present comfort for future reward while living a life of focus and purpose. “Happiness is a by-product to enjoy, not a dream to seize,” John Townsend.

Jennifer Diane: “This Is Me”

I am finally at that long-waited point of fully embracing who I am and everything that goes with it. Every day, I will openly and unapologetically express, laugh, create and pursue. When the fear of rejection rears its ugly head, I will punch it in the throat and side step it at every opportunity. I am confident that 2016 is a breakout year for me.

Candy: “I will pursue trust.”

This past year has taught me that I have a quiet strength that has the ability to greatly influence change that is bigger than me. In 2016, I will stop breaking promises to myself and confidently trust in Gods promises. It’s time to stop down-playing who I am. When fear attempts to take hold of me with its excuses or reminders of the past, I will boldly call it out. I will no longer be bound by the fear of actually seeing good outcomes.

Stating your intentions for 2016 is not just writing down your to do list for the year. It is about creating healthy lifestyle habits that develop and reveal the authentic you.

Your perspective on how you do things is everything. Your perspective comes from your ‘why’. Why do you want to do more in 2016? Why are you choosing that specific word or theme? Inwardly focused goals are not strong enough to bring about a powerful game-changing outcome. It is when we can step outside of ourselves and see the bigger picture and purpose of our actions when we realize we can truly make a difference and find happiness.

It’s YOUR TURN!

If you are ready to bravely achieve more this year, we challenge you to answer the questions below. Invite a friend to join you.

  1. What is your intention/theme for the year?
  2. How do you plan to accomplish that?
  3. What obstacles/fears do you foresee standing in your way?

 

Be brave and empowered on your journey!

-The Brave Avenue Bravenistas

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